First time father John Paul Vella says responsible fathers get their fair share of stress and worry.
I felt I became a dad from the first time we knew our little one was in his mum's womb
Last year I became a dad. My baby’s just turned six weeks. The numbers might not add up, I know. But I became a dad the moment my wife and I found out our little one was in his mummy’s womb. And according to the baby app on my smart phone, he was just the size of a poppy seed – perhaps the size of this fullstop. To be honest, I became a dad the instant God granted conception.
People would wish her well and the best of luck
Even if we tried hiding it, it was quite obvious that that little being’s heart ticked and as my wife’s belly grew, she wasn’t really alone. And people would look into my wife’s eyes and take a glance at her belly and wish her well and the best of luck. And I would thank them. When she wasn’t with me, no one could tell I was a dad, or an expectant dad. But I was. I felt like screaming it out all the time (which I probably got very close to doing). My life had changed – there was someone new to think about, new duties added to the list. My wife was getting her fair share of overprotection and tender loving care.
A father carries his child in his mind and heart
A mother carries her child for nine months, or thereabouts. She gives birth to him/her. Mother instinct kicks in from day one. A father carries his child in his mind and heart; men will never understand what it means to carry a child, to feel it move about and kick on the inside. Fair enough. But women will never understand what it’s like for a first-time-dad. His fears, stress, anxiety, worries might be similar to mummy’s, but an expectant dad doesn’t know what to expect either, experiencing pregnancy from a totally different perspective. He doesn’t know what he’s in for; although many are those who mockingly describe it quite clearly, with a smirk to their face, as if it’s funny that new dads won’t get a night’s sleep, will get covered in wee or posetting and not understand what little baby wants. How many times are new dads asked how they feel? Can they be honest? Can they say they’re afraid? They have to laugh it off.
Birth cannot not change you as a man
Nothing could have prepared me for birth. I read about it, and watched YouTube videos in a bid to try and psychologically support myself, to be the best I can for my wife and newborn. I prayed for it to happen fast, for my wife to stop feeling pain and discomfort, to feel safe and know what was happening. Labour was long. And it felt even longer. Because it was. My wife went through a lot of physical pain. But standing there, taking an active role in labour, baring witness to the birth of my child was not as cute, cheery and bubbly as they make it sound. My mind went through labour. And when my son was born, my mind made sure it reminded me about the labour. Birth cannot not change you as a man. The experience is so overpowering. It's a feeling where your emotions go through a trapdoor - you're falling. Nothing can prepare you. I will never forget my boy’s cry. Then mine and my wife's in sync.
Upon birth, no one asked me how I was feeling
Upon the birth of my son, many congratulated us. Almost no one asked me how I was feeling. Everyone surrounded my wife’s bed and my little boy. I cannot blame them. But I was there in the birth. I really did my best to support my wife actively, yet still helplessly feel there was nothing I could do to put her out of her misery. The experience was indeed overpowering. And as my son grows, it becomes even more overwhelming as you see him hold his neck up, see him smile, look you into your eyes after spending sleepless frustrated nights feeding, changing nappies and calming down a newborn. But looking back, the time my wife spent in hospital recovering post-partum weren’t exactly the most exciting.
A closer knit family
Becoming a dad has brought our family even closer. Our son is the subject of almost every sentence or utterance that is said. He is truly the centre of attention and makes each day worth living. I’d say I really try to be a compassionate and supportive husband and do my best to fulfil my daddy duties.
John Paul Vella